I love the Frozen Four tournament. When all of my friends are talking about “March Madness” my mind instantly goes to the Division I hockey teams hoping to make the post season.
On Thursday (while the Checkers take on the Texas Stars), the semi-finals will be underway in Pittsburgh, with St. Cloud State taking on top-ranked Quinnipiac, and UMass-Lowell will face Yale. The final is on Saturday.
Half of the tournament is over already, and my NCAA team lost in the second round unfortunately, so I’m without a team to cheer for in the Frozen Four this weekend.
This year, the Frozen Four consists of three teams who’ve never made it to the Frozen Four, and a fourth team who has only made it once. When my team gets eliminated early in the tournament, I like to cheer for the underdog, but that’s a hard choice this year, because none of the teams have a lot of post-season success. I can’t tell you the last time the Frozen Four didn’t include one of the NCAA powerhouses such as Sean Dolan’s Wisconsin or John Muse’s Boston College.
A few fun facts about this year’s Frozen Four:
- The mascots of the four teams include pretty regular creatures. Two types of dogs, a cat, and a bird. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Golden Gopher, A Fighting Sioux, or a mythical creature like a Golden Knight or Buckeye. This makes me sad.
- Yale and Quinnipiac are located on the same street in Connecticut, only eight miles away.
- St. Cloud State University has never been to a Frozen Four before this year, though the state of Minnesota has 20 players in the Frozen Four this year.
- University of Massachusetts – Lowell is also making their first-ever Frozen Four appearance. They have the fewest Canadians on their team with three, and are the only team to not have a player from the state of Minnesota.
Quinnipiac has the most Canadians on their team with six. This is their first Frozen Four, and only their second appearance in the post season. In 2002, they lost in the first round to Cornell. Charlotte Checkers forward David Marshall spent four years playing for the Quinnipiac Bobcats Connecticut.
- Yale is set to make their second Frozen Four appearance in their history. They last made it to the Frozen Four in 1952. Former Hurricanes player Mike Commodore was recruited by Yale, but they wanted him to re-take the SAT to be accepted. He instead chose to attend the University of North Dakota, where he won the Frozen Four tournament in 2000.
NCAA Alumni on the Charlotte Checkers
John Muse is undoubtedly the most successful member of the Checkers when it comes to his NCAA experience. He won two Frozen Fours in 2008 and 2010, and appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2011 (the year, by the way, former Checker Justin Faulk’s Duluth team won the championship). His record in the NCAA tournament was 13-1.
- Checkers center Jeremy Welsh spent three seasons at Union College. Welsh played in two NCAA tournaments in 2011 and 2012. Last year, Welsh was a member of the Union Dutchmen team that made the Division I Frozen Four for the first time in the team’s history.
Justin Krueger and Riley Nash both played college hockey at Cornell. The mascot of Cornell is “Big Red.” Krueger and Nash made two NCAA hockey tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010.
- Sean Dolan was the captain of the Wisconsin Badgers during his senior season in 2010-11. He made two NCAA tournament appearances during his college career, in 2008 and 2010. His junior year, in 2010, his team lost to the goaltending of John Muse and Boston College for the championship.
Rob Madore played four seasons at the University of Vermont. He appeared in two NCAA tournaments in 2009 and 2010. His name is on the school’s record books alongside Tim Thomas in pretty much every stat category.
- Matt Beca played for the Clarkson University Golden Knights for four seasons. He appeared in two NCAA tournaments in 2007 and 2008.
- Danny Biega, Checkers defenseman, played three years at Harvard. The mascot of Harvard is “Crimson” which is VERY different from the “Big Red” of Cornell. Harvard and Cornell are fierce rivals. I hope the Checkers players who skated for different shades of red in College can put aside those rivalries now that they are professionals!
- Eric Baier played four years for the Providence Friars. During his time there, they didn’t make the post season.
Zac Dalpe spent two years at Ohio State. During his freshman year, his team appeared in the NCAA tournament.
- Bobby Raymond spent four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It was a Division III school his freshman year, but joined the Division I ranks his second year. While he didn’t play in an NCAA tournament as a student, his teammates made it the year after he graduated.